Trump to eliminate Transgender people. “The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law,” the New York Timesreports.
“A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of sex in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing sex largely as an individual’s choice — and prompting fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.”
“Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.”
No US politician since – who? Theodore Bilbo? – has incited violence as often or as enthusiastically as President Trump. Pretty audacious that he is now campaigning against "mobs." Me in the Atlantic https://t.co/o2fXWyqTYH
— David Frum (@davidfrum) October 20, 2018
Trump Promises Middle-class Tax Cut Before Midterms. “Making an audacious pre-midterm promise, President Trump told reporters in Nevada on Saturday that he is working with Republican congressional leaders on ‘a very major tax cut for middle-income people,’ to be announced in early November or just before,” Axios reports.
Roll Call: “Both the House and Senate are effectively out of session until the postelection lame-duck session, but if one were to take Trump at face value, he did point to ‘putting in’ the tax legislation before then.
One can never tell if Trump grasps the implications of his words or not, but this news is tantamount to announcing two things. The first is an admission that the original tax cut, which was advertised as being “for the middle class,” was not. The second is that the GOP has officially realized that voters didn’t buy the spin, and that they would now very much like to use the government’s money to purchase people’s votes in the form of yet another hastily-passed tax “reform.”
It is nearly inconceivable that anything will actually happen before the midterms. First of all, there just isn’t much time left. Second, Congress isn’t even in session, having adjourned so members can campaign. And even if Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) call their colleagues back into session (after all, that pair has no need to campaign right now), it is very hard to believe they can find the support to quickly pass another massive giveaway, given this week’s news about the exploding deficit. After all, if you start giving big handouts to the wealthy, and corporations, and the middle class, that leaves you balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, which seems a poor financial strategy.
Trump may or may not be savvy enough to grasp the realities here, but Paul Ryan certainly is. So, if he really is working on some sort of last-second tax bill, he must have one of two goals in mind. Either he wants to call Congress back into session and force Democrats into an unpalatable vote right before the midterms, or he wants to telegraph to the voting public: “Keep Congress Republican and you will get free money.” We shall soon see if Trump was speaking truth, or if he was just talking out of some other part of his body.
"Trump’s latest endorsement of political violence should be read as an act of desperation by a president contemplating the potential consequences of defeat at the polls," writes @AdamSerwer: https://t.co/gPGAq0HZ2n
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) October 21, 2018
Trump Says U.S. Will Pull Out of Missile Pact with Russia. President Trump said he would pull out of a Cold-War era treaty with Russia that limited the number of missiles in each country because Russia has violated the agreement, USA Today reports.
Said Trump: “Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years. And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”
He said the U.S. would pull out “and then we are going to develop the weapons” unless Russia and China agree to a new deal, though China isn’t currently a party of the agreement.
The Guardian reported that John Bolton was pushing for the U.S. to withdraw “in the face of resistance from others in the Trump administration and U.S. allies.”
Congressional candidate Abigail Spanberger had a brilliant comeback to her GOP opponent constantly calling her Nancy Pelosi pic.twitter.com/FNFpjArzSu
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 21, 2018
Georgia Voter Suppression Appears to Be Far More Extensive than Previously Known. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) has spent much of his time in office making certain to erase certain kinds of voters from the rolls. Yesterday, we noted that at least 600 absentee ballots, primarily from the very diverse Gwinnett County, had been tossed in the garbage for dubious reasons. And last week, we pointed out that 53,000 new voter registrations had been flagged on the judgment of Kemp’s staff, with 70% of those belonging to black folks. So, something’s rotten in the state of…well, Georgia.
On Saturday, however, came news that the issue may be vastly more extensive than suspected. Like many states, Georgia has laws that govern the removal of inactive voters from the rolls. In their particular case, voters who have not cast ballots for three years receive a letter warning them that their registration is in jeopardy. If they do not respond, and they do not vote in either of the next two general elections, then they are purged. Generally speaking, this is a fairly reasonable means of dealing with the fact that when people die, change residences, etc., they (or their executors) rarely notify the government.
The issue in Georgia, according to an investigation by journalist Greg Palast, is that of the 534,000 voters who were purged under the terms of the Georgia law in the last two years, more than 340,000 of those still live at the address at which they were registered. There are only two ways to explain this. The first is that an enormous number of people failed to respond to their legally-mandated warnings, and also failed to cast a single vote for four years. The second is that they were purged inappropriately.
Palast has not released any demographic data about those who were purged, but he did imply that they were disproportionately black, which lends credence to explanation #2. It is the case that, barring some sort of court intervention that overturns the expurgation, folks will be able to cast provisional ballots. However, the decision as to which provisional ballots to accept, and which to reject, will be made by…the office of Brian Kemp.
Of course, Kemp is just following the lead of his party’s pooh-bahs. That includes the fellow in the White House, who tweeted this on Saturday:
All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2018
Many people, quite reasonably, interpreted that as a none-too-subtle attempt at voter intimidation. But, once again, Trump does not appear to have thought through the implications of his words. First, if he and/or his administration end up in a lawsuit about their voter suppression behavior—with, say, a Democratic-controlled House as plaintiffs—this will be prosecution exhibit #1. Second, if the GOP takes a thumping in November, Trump won’t exactly be able to fall back on his 2016 excuse of “all the illegals voted!”, since that would be tantamount to admitting that his team is incompetent.
Gillum speaks the truth. “They aren’t trying to sell people on Ron DeSantis or his vision. They’re trying to terrify people of me. They want people to know I’m black… They want to focus people on I’m different, not like everybody else – dangerous.” — Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D), in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
Gillum told the Tampa Bay Times that rival Ron DeSantis (R) is “a uniquely unlikeable candidate.” Said Gillum: “He’s easily dislikable. I don’t think anybody could spend a lot of time with him and walk away feeling inspired or encouraged or believe that he in some way knows what it means to to live their life. They realize they can’t package him in that way.”
He added: “I’ve heard from Republican members of congress DeSantis would go on these congressional trips with them and he’d put on his headphones and not talk to them the entire time.”
Here's my new video about how every candidate is talking about pre-existing conditions in their ads: https://t.co/l8RCvF4LHV
— Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) October 19, 2018
2020 Hopefuls are warming up. The Guardian: “It’s a crisp fall weekend and more than a half-dozen prominent Democrats are in states that hold early primaries. Former vice-president Joe Biden is in Nevada. Two senators, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, are in South Carolina. The former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe is in New Hampshire and Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is in Iowa. It is October 2018. The 2020 presidential campaign is on.”
“With the exception of Maryland congressman John Delaney, no one has announced their candidacy. Those traveling to states with early primaries insist they are there to aid down-ballot candidates in the midterm elections. They are not campaigning. At least, not openly.”
McConnell’s Gift to Manchin. “Joe Manchin looked like a solid bet for reelection after he voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. But Mitch McConnell might have sealed the deal,” Politico reports.
“Facing some of the toughest campaigns of their careers, the West Virginia Democrat and his moderate colleagues believe they’ve received an unexpected gift from the Senate GOP leader. In a triumphant post-Kavanaugh media tour last week, the Kentucky Republican waxed about his regret over the missed opportunity to repeal Obamacare and the need to reform entitlement programs to rein in the federal deficit.”
“Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are vital to West Virginia. And in an interview on Saturday as he prepared for the annual Apple Harvest Parade, Manchin called McConnell’s comments ‘absolutely ridiculous’ and said his Republican opponent, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, would vote to curtail benefits ‘in a heartbeat.’”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 21, 2018
Trump flip flops on Saudi excuse. President Trump strongly criticized Saudi Arabia’s explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in an interview with the Washington Post late Saturday, saying that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”
At the same time, Trump defended the oil-rich monarchy as an “incredible ally” and kept open the possibility that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not order Saudi agents to kill Khashoggi.
Said Trump: “Nobody has told me he’s responsible. Nobody has told me he’s not responsible. We haven’t reached that point. I haven’t heard either way.”
“Trump had told reporters Friday that the Saudi explanation was credible, but U.S. officials said he has privately grimaced that his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince has become a liability and left the White House with no good options.”
Republicans are refusing to acknowledge that their tax cut bill blew a hole in the federal deficit. https://t.co/uRi8s3cv4r
— Vox (@voxdotcom) October 19, 2018
Trump’s Perverse Advantage. Frank Bruni: “Elizabeth Warren screwed up. That’s clear. Her big confirmation of Native American blood offended some Native Americans, did nothing to muffle or muzzle Donald Trump and left many journalists — me included — questioning her tactical smarts.”
“But the media focus on her misjudgment, her character and whether she had the right stuff for the White House underscores the absurdity of our current politics, in terms of the advantage it confers on the president. We expect much of anyone stepping forward to challenge him. We expect absolutely nothing of him.”
“She’s engaged in a chess game where she’s moving her pawns around and she’s trying to demonstrate to many people, including Bernie, that not only is she running, but is fully capable of running, and is so far ahead that you should just give in to her,” https://t.co/bKuL8r01HL
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) October 21, 2018
The Bernie-Warren Reckoning. “Bernie Sanders says he speaks with Elizabeth Warren nearly every day — just not about 2020,” Politicoreports.
“But with the two progressive behemoths on a collision course in the presidential primary — and with some progressive activists alarmed that they might split the vote, allowing a more moderate Democrat to win the nomination — Sanders suggested Friday that a pre-2020 discussion among like-minded candidates could be forthcoming.”
Said Sanders: “I suspect that in the coming weeks and months, there will be discussions.”
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 19, 2018
Saudis shocked by admission. “Saudi Arabia’s about-face admission that journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul earlier this month sent shockwaves through a country where many had believed — and defended — initial official claims that the authorities had nothing to do with it,” Bloomberg reports.
Said one Saudi man: “A very sad day for this nation, to see what the country had descended into.”